Moral Low Ground

US Government

Trayvon Martin Family Attorney Jasmine Rand Calls Herself “Social Engineer”

Van Susteren vs. Rand (Photo: Fox News screen grab)

Van Susteren vs. Rand (Photo: Fox News screen grab)

One of the attorneys representing Trayvon Martin’s family in the George Zimmerman trial has either “given away the game” or admirably acknowledged being a warrior in a greater struggle for social justice, depending on your worldview.

Appearing on Fox News Channel’s On The Record on Monday, Jasmine Rand asserted that from her perspective as family attorney, she never endorsed the jury chosen to hear the Zimmerman case. When host Greta Van Susteren asked Rand if she thought the jury was a bad one, the civil rights attorney opined that she did “not believe that Trayvon got equal justice in this instance.” Van Susteren then pressed her guest to prove how this was so and questioned her commitment to the rule of law, in so many words.

Rand, who has built her legal career around advocating for disadvantaged populations, raised eyebrows by what she said next:

“I have a greater duty beyond being an attorney, and that’s to be a social engineer. And when the law doesn’t get it right, I believe we have the right to peacefully and morally conscientiously object to the decision of the jury.” 

The notion of lawyers as social engineers goes back nearly a century. Charles Hamilton Houston, a black World War I veteran and editor of the Harvard Law Review, was heavily influenced by Roscoe Pound’s theory of sociological jurisprudence and the difference between “law in books” and “law in action.” At Harvard, Houston was also exposed to fellow future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, a champion of due process who helped found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). As a vice dean at Howard Law School and later with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Houston applied what he learned at Harvard to the burgeoning struggle for racial equality. At Howard, he trained and inspired a small army of early civil rights attorneys, foremost among these Thurgood Marshall, who would later be instrumental in bringing about the end of racial segregation in public schools in cases including the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education. Marshall would later become the first black Supreme Court justice. Throughout his life, Marshall used the law as a vehicle to promote civil rights and racial justice– he was a true social engineer.

If it weren’t for attorneys acting as social engineers, the civil rights movement as we know it would not have been possible.

Rand invoked Thurgood Marshall in endorsing lawyers’ role as social engineers during an interview with CNN earlier on Monday in which she wore a hoodie to honor Trayvon Martin and everyone who supported him and his family as they fought for justice.

“We will continue to stand until we do believe that our society is in a more equal state,” she said. “Thurgood Marshall called on all attorneys not to be a parasite upon society, but to be a social engineer.”

At the end of her CNN interview, however, Rand implied that George Zimmerman had shot Martin because he was black. Neither the jury nor federal investigators found any evidence that this was the case.

Social engineering may be beneficial, even essential, for achieving racial justice in America. But engineering the truth is anathema to justice. Moral Low Ground applauds Jasmine Rand for not only acknowledging a legal responsibility that transcends any individual case, but also for dedicating her life’s work to using the law as an instrument for social change. From mass incarceration to discrimination and disparities in policing and arrestswealth and income, lending, housing, health care, education, employment, and the application of capital punishment, black (and brown) Americans still face towering obstacles to equality. But Rand must also take care not to resort to the sort of hyperbole— the claims that George Zimmerman was a “racist” who “hunted,” “stalked,” “murdered,” even “lynched” and, ludicrously, “assassinated” Trayvon Martin– which does a disservice to the greater cause of social justice to which she has dedicated her legal career.

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8 Comments

  1. Kauf BuchJuly 16, 2013 at 4:00 amReply

    *Forget* the “social engineer” sentence which has been going around teh internetz…LISTEN TO HER NEXT TO LAST SENTENCE, when she says (paraphrasing),
    “The government and police didn’t bring charges against Zimmerman, and it was only because of the outcry of [insert litany of Identity Politics groups here].”
    THAT’S MOB ACTION in a “DEMOCRACY” (used as a derogatory)!!!
    This monster is justifying societal lynching.

    • Brett WilkinsJuly 16, 2013 at 11:16 pmReplyAuthor

      From the warped worldview of the oppressor, you’re absolutely right. But for those who have experienced centuries of injustice, it’s called fighting for equality and for the rights you take for granted.

      • UdolphoAugust 1, 2013 at 9:52 amReply

        Your problem is that you can’t see how the social engineering to “fight injustice” (always a subjective determination) will create reactions. The most obvious long-term reaction is that people who are not really “fighting injustice” will seize upon these tactics out of self-interest.

        But the history of liberalism is replete with examples of them not figuring out that the tools they employ to achieve justice when democracy fails them can also be employed by others for self-benefit–and often this will mean perpetuating a new kind of injustice. And that man, such as he is, is bound to eventually do so.

        Ultimately, attacking the jury system is a very troubling thing to do, even if you believe your cause is justice (and no, not everyone will agree on what justice is). You seem to agree with this. But you easily pivot into dogmatic goodies vs. baddies partisan rhetoric which immediately undermines the sensible things you wrote above.

  2. Brett B.July 16, 2013 at 8:41 amReply

    I watched this interview last night and found Attorney Jasmin Rand’s mindset very disturbing.

  3. Photosapien LaFemeJuly 16, 2013 at 7:47 pmReply

    Who the heck does she think she is? Mob rule and disregard for the system. Disbar these types of clowns!

  4. MiloJuly 16, 2013 at 8:04 pmReply

    Jasmine is talking about a Soviet style system; where the court system was designed to ensure party control of judicial decisions at all levels. Soviet courts had no jury and Jasmine seems to agree with that based upon her scathing condemnation of the jury’s decision, instead preferring the will of the body politic (social engineering) who saw nothing of the trial or the evidence.As far as known, the Soviet courts had 100% conviction rate.

  5. JonJuly 16, 2013 at 10:20 pmReply

    Jasmine has no plans to practice law. She is community organizer/agitator with a law degree like other leaders in this country. They are not interested in the rule of law, but they want to advance an agenda that have destroyed all past countries and civilizations.

    • Brett WilkinsJuly 16, 2013 at 11:12 pmReplyAuthor

      Did you ignore the whole part of the article in which it explains how social engineering brought about the monumental changes of the civil rights era, leading to much greater racial equality in a notoriously unequal nation? Would you turn back the clock to the days of a white male-dominated and highly repressive world?

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